Is Nghimtina Aiding Corruption? [analysis]

THE LATEST goings-on at the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) only serve to raise more questions about whether the Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina, is doing right by the taxpayer. His record over the past few years is not flattering.

And to kill off any iota of doubt, Nghimtina needs to do what Michael Jackson sings about in one of his many famous songs and look into that glass coated with metal amalgam in order to see the ‘man in the mirror’.

Nghimtina is in charge of a ministry that is tasked with executing the government’s public works. This year his ministry alone will preside over the spending of nearly N$6 billion. If you add parastatals under his care, the value easily passes N$10 billion and that’s no small change for a country that needs every penny to boost its development opportunities. Any waste, through fraud, mismanagement and other forms of corruption, should thus not be tolerated.

If the latest reports published in this newspaper do not spur Nghimtina into decisive action then he must accept that inaction is tantamount (deliberately or inaertently) to helping the acts of mismanagement and corruption.

The Namibian understands that at least four people at the airports company are being threatened with losing their jobs. Their crime? They dared to question an order to implement a project that cost the company [read government] twice the amount more than it is necessary and which contract was awarded despite the best possible aice of the technical staff.

The NAC has an acting CEO because they fired the previous one for questioning the way directors spend the parastatal’s money. They paid more than N$2 million to Ben Biwa and are most likely to fire and pay the staff who are questioning the current round of dubious deals, too.

Why award the security cameras contract at two of Windhoek’s airports to Syntex for N$15.2m, when Schoemans, the company which the NAC tender committee rated as having technically the best offer, came in at N$7.7m?

Even more questionable in this saga, is email correspondence by one of the employees telling directors that the recommendations of the evaluator were “modified to favour Syntex as per the tender committee resolution”.

Then there’s another ‘aha’, if you consider that the board of directors last year did away with having management to do the leg work in big tenders and instead set up a tender committee comprised of the board of directors itself.

Similar to the security cameras issue is a N$50m contract for airport scanners (not to be confused with the ones of the Ministry of Finance with Teko Trading of Teckla Lameck-Kongo Mokaxwa). Our information is that this contract was awarded to someone who does not meet the government requirements.

Yet both of these are being pushed through and the people who question them are being persecuted.

It’s an old modus operandi.

Two years ago, NAC hired one Brian Nalisa to ‘restructure’ the company. (Dozens of workers lost their jobs.) Nalisa walked away with N$7.5m for the five-month hatchet job. In one instance he allegedly charged the NAC N$400 000 for a 10-minute call to the Labour Commissioner.

Two directors have been in charge throughout these shenanigans: Ndeuhala Katonyala and Frieda Aluteni. They have themselves been accused of milking the NAC by literally acting like full-time employees of NAC. Other directors have either resigned in disgust or have been sidelined and thus hounded out of the NAC the same way as happened to senior managers who are believed to have crossed Katonyala and Aluteni’s paths.

Nghimtina has been accused before of failing to act against the two. As recently as 2012 he sat on a report that recommended that he immediately fire the NAC directors because of allegations of mismanagement and fraud. But Katonyala and Aluteni have survived throughout.

The latest reports surely must give Nghimtina new cause for decisive action.

He should take a leaf from his Cabinet colleagues, such as Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Doreen Sioka, who fired the board when she believed commissioners at the Social Security Commission acted beyond their duty and outside the bounds of good governance. If he does nothing he will be viewed, correctly, as aiding corruption and the abuse of State resources.

He should rather heed the aice of the departed superstar who sang: “I’m Gonna Make A Change For Once In My Life It’s Gonna Feel Real Good Gonna Make A Difference Gonna Make It Right”.

Go on, tate Erkki Nghimtina. Make that change.

Source : The Namibian